Grangers working hard in the summer

Published 11:33 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – The countdown is on.

In a little more than six weeks, the LaGrange Grangers will be on the field for a preseason game, and they begin things for real on Aug. 18 against Callaway.

While official preseason practice won’t begin until the final week of July, the Grangers are already hard at work.

The Grangers began their summer program last week, and they’ll be on the field for four days every week, with the exception of the Georgia High School Association-mandated dead week at the start of July.

“They’ve been doing a good job,” said Dialleo Burks, who is back for his fourth season as LaGrange’s head coach. “We had a really good week last week as far as the tempo. The guys are being engaged. That was really good.”

The schedule will remain the same for the Grangers throughout the summer.

They’ll get together each Monday through Thursday, and after some time in the weight room, they’ll head to the practice field for some hands-on work.

The summer affords the coaches an opportunity to work closely with the players, without the focus of preparing for a game.

The hope is that by the time the summer ends and preseason practice begins, Burks and the other coaches will know where each player best fits.

“That’s what this time is for, seeing where we need to put them, does the system really fit them,” Burks said. “The spring is good, but the spring you just want to get guys out there and see what can they do. The summer is more of you’re putting them into place to go with the season.”

The Grangers will break up the summer routine next week when they participate in an 11-on-11 camp at Callaway Stadium.

LaGrange will be joined by Griffin, Shaw, Spencer and Salem.

LaGrange will host another camp on July 15, and there will be 14 teams participating.

They will both be contact camps, giving the LaGrange players an opportunity to put the pads on and work on their hitting skills. Burks said it’s easier to get the measure of a player when contact is involved.

“When you’re running through a bag, and you’re asking them to touch off, you can’t get a good picture out of that,” Burks said. “But when you’re protected with helmets and shoulder pads, you can get a true picture. You have to bring your arms and wrap up.”

Burks said the contact camps are a vital tool when it comes to preparing for the season.

“I’m glad the GHSA allows us those camps, those contact camps where you can do that,” Burks said. “It lets you see where you are, too, as a team.”

The summer is a critical time for the players, and also for a new-look coaching staff.

While the man at the top is back, Burks has a number of new coaches, including a new defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator.

“It’s a new staff, but I’ll tell you, there’s a lot of laughing,” Burks said. “The atmosphere is enjoyable. Hopefully it’ll carry over. We’ve got a good group of guys.”